The Academy Awards are Sunday, so it's time for the annual predictions from the revered GonzoGeek panel: Bruce, Chris, John, Matt, Stephe and Matt’s copy of “Wrestlemania 2000” for the Nintendo 64.
Today: Best Lead Actress
The Artist (1/10)
The Descendants (9/1)
The Help (12/1)
War Horse (30/1)
Midnight in Paris (50/1)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (75/1)
The Tree of Life (75/1)
Odds provided by Bovada (formerly Bodog).
Despite my best intentions, I’ve only seen three of the nine nominees in this category. As such, those are the only ones I’ll be choosing from. That means my personal field is: “ Moneyball,”” The Descendants” and “The Help.” I’m tossing out “The Descendants” first. It’s a good movie, but not a great one. Clooney gives an Oscar worthy performance, but the movie won’t win. Likewise, “The Help,” will win an acting award and remove itself from Best Picture consideration. “Moneyball” has a lot in common with last “The Social Network.” Quick, crisp dialogue courtesy of Aaron Sorkin. Tales of underdogs fighting against the established order. Underdog stories with ambiguous endings. The big difference? Billy Beane, especially as played by Brad Pitt, makes a far more engaging lead than Jesse Eisenberg. Pitt loses to Clooney and “Moneyball” tops “The Descendants.”
In a Perfect World: “Captain America” garners a nomination for being a really fun throwback and the best superhero flick in a summer rife with them.
WINNER: The Tree of Life
That’s right, an upset. There’re lots of heavyweights in this field, led by Scorsese (‘Hugo’) and Spielberg (‘War Horse’), but no singularly better-than-all-the-rest movie. I enjoyed ‘Moneyball’ and ‘Midnight in Paris,’ but it’s a stretch to imagine either being the best film of the year. And thus an opening is created for a smaller film, a dialogue-driven, unflinching examination of the human condition. Three years ago ‘Revolutionary Road,’ which had many of the same attributes, failed to garner a nomination. This was before the bracket was expanded, but it too might have triumphed in what was a similarly mixed field. Maybe not though, the world was pretty on fire for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ that time around. But there is no ‘Slumdog…’-like sensation among this year’s nominees.
In a Perfect World: There would have been a clear, runaway winner, so transcendent in its glory that the entire world paused to take notice, and swords were turned to plowshares.
WINNER: The Artist
Again, the only nominee I saw was Moneyball, and while I enjoyed it and it's still got me fired up for the baseball season several weeks later, I don't think it's worthy of a Best Picture award. I'll go with The Artist only because it seems like something unique and creative.
In a Perfect World: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, that feel-good romp about 9/11, wins. A wormhole oppens and all other illogical happenings in this world are sucked into it.
WINNER: The Artist
Hard to argue with those odds. I haven't had an opportunity to see The Artist yet - scratch that, I've had plenty of opportunity as it has been extended three times at the local arthouse, but I haven't felt the desire to see it. I'm sure it's good, 7000 critics' associations and press associations say as much. I'm just not really sold as love letters to film being the best films of a given year. The Descendants was the best movie I saw in 2011, and it has the most realistic shot of any other nominee, but we've done this for enough years that I realize the Academy and I don't see eye to eye.
In A Perfect World: Drive gets a nomination, hands down. In fact, the whole theory behind this expanded nominee pool gets revisited. It started because movies like The Dark Knight and Wall-E will never be given serious consideration but the Academy wanted fans of those "mainstream" flicks to feel acknowledged. Is that the case with War Horse? Or EL&IC? The Help and Moneyball are the most casually-appealing nominees, and two that adequately represent the year in film. What about Bridesmaids? What about Win Win? What about a well-done action film like Source Code? If you added these extra slots to give to films that would never otherwise make the cut, maybe some more thought should be given to films that adequately represent the year in cinema.
WINNER: The Artist
It’s silent. It’s black and white. It’s inherently non-commercial which means its quality can’t be measured by box office success or easily explained so it must be art! Feel proud Hollywood, you’ll be giving this award to a movie people will quickly delete from their Netflix queue’s a week after the show.
In a Perfect World: They’d drop the number of Best Picture nominations back to 5.
Wrestlemania 2000 *
Normally we expand the rules a little for Best Picture, run a little King of the Ring to whittle down the field or something like that. But AMPAAS has fucked up Wrestlemania 2000 just like they've fucked up everything else, so we have nine nominees and a favorite with such slanted odds that no one else should even show up. Let's just make it easy: the bottom five for odds are such long shots that we may as well just lop them off and go from there.
The Artist, all about the game and people who are forever married to it - Triple H
The Descendants, a charismatic half-Islander becomes his own man - The Rock
The Help, representing a dirty job for way longer than anyone ever expected - The Undertaker
Hugo, an epic for practical reasons rather than emotional ones, because it's just a kid at heart - Big Show
Wrestlemania 2000 is not playing favorites at all this year. It's a four-way brawl at the beginning, and The Artist shows some early moxie, shrugging off an early Tombstone from The Help. I'd like to give the Tombstone a punny name, but I used my best one for Octavia Spencer's finisher on Tuesday and everything else is probably a reach. Anyway, the battle continues as Hugo and The Help team up against the two true contenders. It's The Descendants who fall first to another Tombstone, getting eliminated by The Help at 6:34. From there, the Hugo/Help alliance continues without a hint of dissension. After a minute or so of pounding on The Artist, the other favorite is eliminated. A comeback attempt is thwarted by a reverse Russian leg sweep from The Help, and Hugo makes the pinfall at 7:57. Clearly the two underdogs made a pact to make it to the finals. They go at it tooth and nail, putting on a classic while the eliminated favorites look on. The Help tries to hit the trademark piledriver and take home the statue, but Hugo uses The Magic Of Cinema (that's what Hugo calls a chokeslam, duh) to get the win and the Oscar at 15:32.
* Wrestlemania 2000 picks the Oscars by (1) eliminating the nominee with the longest odds, (2) matching up the remaining four with a character from WM2K’s extensive circa-1997 WWF roster and (3) Staging a CPU-generated four-man elimination match where the last man standing is the Oscar winner. No wrestlers are repeated during the contest.